Players don't blame Clouston

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:37 PM ET

WASHINGTON ó You have to wonder if history is going to repeat for the Senators.

An ugly loss to the Capitals on a Sunday afternoon on Feb. 1, 2009, cost Craig Hartsburg his job as coach of the Senators and Cory Clouston was brought up from Binghamton as his replacement.

The heat has been on Clouston for a while and calls for his job are only going to get louder after Sundayís 3-1 loss to the Capitals.

But, the Senators arenít going to blame the coach for a season that has gone so horribly wrong even as they know questions are going to be raised about Cloustonís future after they blew this one.

ďThat first goal against (by Brooks Laich), I passed it out to (Daniel Alfredsson), it bounced over his stick and itís in the back of the net. Does that have anything to do with coaching?Ē asked defenceman Chris Phillips, who faced the media after his gaffe.

ďI donít think so. Itís part of the game. If you look at the gameplan, weíre all on the same page. We all know what to do. We just havenít been executing. You look at some of the chances weíve had when other teams are making mistakes, and weíre not capitalizing. To pin that on coaching, I donít think is very fair.Ē

Weíll find out if GM Bryan Murray feels the same way.

GETTING READY

W Jarrko Ruutu has no illusions. He knows his days are possibly numbered.

There havenít been any contract discussions between Murray and Ruutuís agent, Don Baizley. There likely wonít be before the Senators find him a new home before the Feb. 28 trade deadline.

The 35-year-old pest ó one of the NHLís most-hated players ó will be dispatched elsewhere before the deadline in exchange for a draft pick to get his $1.3 million US off the books.

ďIím an Ottawa Senator. I want to be an Ottawa Senator, but thereís things that I canít control,Ē said Ruutu, signed as a UFA in 2008. ďIf trades happen, itís out of my control and Iím going to have to live with it.

ďI donít think anything else. I play hard. I understand they can trade anybody if you look at the big picture. Itís not that it bothers me or I think of it, but itís realistic.

ďAnybody can see when guys arenít playing well enough or to their capabilities, there will be changes. Bryan came out and said that.Ē

The Kings and Sharks, both struggling, are looking to bulk up to try to get into the playoffs. The Penguins would certainly look at the possibility of bringing Ruutu back as well. He was a contributor for them.

BINGO SHUFFLE

The Senators called up G Mike Brodeur to dress as the backup Sunday. They donít want 19-year-old G Robin Lehner sitting on the bench in Ottawa when he has the chance to play in Binghamton ... Itís time to send C Corey Locke back to Bingo: He played a total of 7:37 on Sunday on a line with Ruutu and Peter Regin. Locke had two shifts in the third.

IN THE CREASE

Thereís no progress on the health of Pascal Leclaire. The injury-riddled Senators goaltender isnít any better, but heís not any worse. Doctors are putting him through tests to decide whatís next for his hip, groin and back issue thatís kept him out for a month.

Surgery hasnít been ruled out because rest doesnít seem to be doing the injury any good.

ďThereís no change,Ē said coach Cory Clouston before Sundayís game. ďHeís as disappointed and frustrated as anyone.

ďI just donít know where heís at right now. We still feel heís going to play again this year. When thatís going to be, Iím not sure.Ē

C'EST WHAT?

ďYeah, weíll have one,Ē said Caps coach Bruce Boudreau, when asked before the game which goaltender was going to make the start.

THINGS I THINK I THINK

The Senators are 1-8 with C Jason Spezza out of the lineup and the little offence they did have has now completely dried up. Sunday was the 17th time this season theyíve been held to one goal or less.

ďHe does a lot of little things that go unnoticed. Heís very good on the faceoffs (and) heís on the penalty kill. He plays some valuable minutes,Ē said coach Cory Clouston.

ďWeíve got to make sure we understand the value of a Jason in this organization. Heís definitely been missed. We donít want to use that as an excuse.Ē ... The Senators had no shots on a second-period power play. Pathetic ... Linesman Derek Nansen showed some toughness. He took a Karl Alzner shot off the leg in the second and got right back up ... D Erik Karlsson might be an all-star, but heís got to clean up his act. He wasnít able to retrieve a puck along the boards and it resulted in Alex Ovechkin getting a chance alone in front. Fortunately, C Mike Fisher blocked the shot ... The Senators opted to make D Matt Carkner a healthy scratch. While the faithful want D Filip Kuba to be scratched, the Sens are going to try to move him at the Feb. 28 deadline. They have to keep him playing if someone is going to take a chance on Kuba, who has a year left on his $3.7 million US contract.


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